Close to 60,000 people participated in the different activities organized Thursday in Brussels for the national day celebration, according to a first estimate by police in the Brussels Capital-Ixelles area. Although at mid-afternoon the public was sparse at rue de la Loi, where King Philippe reviewed the troops in preparation for the 21st of July parade, the public was definitely greater in number at Place des Palais for admiring the different elements of the Belgian Armed Forces which are celebrating this year the 70th anniversary of the Air Force and Navy.
The parade, for the fourth consecutive year under the command of General Major Jean-Paul Deconinck, began at 16:00 under observation of the royal couple, their children and several members of the spheres of politics and the judiciary. Prince Laurent was also present. His wife, Princess Claire, did not participate at the parade, nor did Princess Astrid and her husband Prince Lorenz, nor did Albert and Paola, the former royal couple.
At Place des Palais, veterans initiated the march, followed by detachments of Air Force and Navy cadets, as well as representatives of parachutists and junior commandos. About thirty Air Force planes then invaded the sky of the capital, with six Alpha jets, six Marchetti, 15 F-16 fighter planes, three C-130s, one E3-A and one Spitfire. Seven helicopters: three Caiman and one Alouette III, also participated in the festivities.